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NASA John Grotzinger on the Privatization of Space Exploration

by Alexandra Santiago
NASA Scientist and Speaker John Grotzinger

SpaceX has officially launched its 14th cargo mission to the International Space Station, and remains the only private company to ever return a spacecraft from low-Earth Orbit. And Elon Musk has ambitious goals of enabling humans to live on other planets. This year, SpaceX will continue to forge its path as it joins NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Clearly, the future of space travel and the privatization of the industry has never been more relevant. With Musk showing no signs of slowing down, the question remains: When it comes to space exploration, how ought responsibility and ambition be divided between the government and private industry?

John Grotzinger was the chief scientist and head of strategic science planning for NASA’s $2.5 billon Curiosity rover mission to Mars, which remains the most complex spacecraft to ever land and operate on the surface of another planet.

A veteran geologist of more than 30 years of exploration of Earth and Mars, Grotzinger received NASA’s prestigious Outstanding Public Leadership Medal for the unprecedented success of the Curiosity rover. He was named No. 2 of “10 Innovators who Changed the World” by Popular Mechanics. 

During the Mars Exploration, Grotzinger led a team of more than 450 scientists and was responsible for the future planning, parallel operations, determining Curiosity’s exploratory sites, and ensuring smooth and productive collaboration between several independent engineering teams. Within his extensive list of credentials, Grotzinger also worked on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. 

Grotzinger’s talks are full of heart-pounding video and the real images that the movie “The Martian” was based upon. He shares a future-focused view of how NASA will continue to thrive in this new competitive era as well as incredible stories of teamwork, ambition, leadership, and overcoming obstacles from his time leading the Curiosity team.

If your group is interested in discussing any of these topics, or looking at the emerging presence of privatized companies—such as SpaceX—in a typically government-led industry, call us at 1-800-SPEAKER or live chat with a member of our team right now.

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